Monday, December 5, 2011

Finally Read: "Wolf: the lives of Jack London" by James L. Haley

Finally Read: Wolf: the lives of Jack London by James L. Haley, 2010, 9780465004782.

Finally finished. An okay book but not the revelation some reviewers seemed to think. London had a rough life for sure and his success was through hard work. You could draw parallels between London's experience and self-motivation with Bill Mauldin's rough childhood and moving around.

London's mother was pregnant by one man, gave birth, and married a Civil War veteran. London loved his step-dad but his mom was a harpy who spent money and gambled on business ventures. His mother had him working at an early age; a time that London referred to himself as the Work Beast.

London bummed around - literally. He caught trains and stayed in hobo camps. He traveled with a tramp army demanding jobs. At fifteen he bought a sailing ship for lucrative work stealing clams from the mud in San Francisco Bay. He did time for "vagrancy" in Buffalo.

London returned to the Eastern Bay and Oakland to finish high school. Gained admission to Berkeley after very, very, intensive study. Left Berkeley for want of money. Went to Alaska and Canada to prospect. Came back, started writing in earnest.

Basically, London did a lot. After his fame hit he did a nationwide speaking tour. Traveled on a war reporting job to Japan and Korea. Took the month long traveling vacations that seemed common 100 years ago. Banged a few chicks. Drank a lot. Etc. Interesting but nothing that really thrilled me.

London did produce a lot. He was dedicated to writing every morning and would put out 1000 words a day - even when voyaging to the South Seas and getting various tropical diseases. His death due to an overdose of morphine does sound accidental. He was in a lot of pain from bad diet, liver disease, rheumatism and other various issues. The guy burned out fast.

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